“I have another relapse in me. I don’t know if I have another recovery in me.”
“While I’m in the meeting, my disease is doing push-ups in the parking lot.”
“It hasn’t gotten any better out there.”
“If I fail to plan, I plan to fail.”
“Keep coming back, but better yet, just stay here.”
“Relapse begins a long time before I pick anything up.”
“If I’m not working on my recovery, I’m working on my relapse.”
These are all phrases I have heard more than once from people in 12-step meetings. They’re on my mind because there’s a mini-relapse going on inside my head lately, and I need to deal with it before it grows! I’m learning what people who rack up time in program do: it’s not that we don’t relapse, it’s that we catch the relapses at an earlier stage and treat them before they go far enough to involve actually using again.
I’ve been very worried and fearful about my future, our finances, where we are going to live, the start of the school year…life stuff. My attitude is becoming warped and moving farther away from one of surrender and trust. I’m not accepting rejections from rentals with any serenity; I’m feeling more insecure and anxious each time.
There’s nothing wrong with me having feelings. What’s wrong is that I am not applying the principles of the program to them. I haven’t been taking those specific feelings into my spiritual practice; I’ve been too busy trying to control the outcome. I’ve forgotten that when my attitude is wrong, I’ll find something to worry about no matter what the circumstances, and if my attitude is healthy I can endure chaos better than I think.
How can I be letting my attitude slide while spending time writing about recovery and healing the way I do? Writing doesn’t make me immune. Pondering emotional and spiritual matters doesn’t either. All of the things I’ve written have been true, and with the Elements series I thought a lot about how they applied to my life. I even used the ideas to get at some feelings I needed to process. But something is missing.
Maybe I’ve been too general and not specific enough lately, even with my spirituality. There’s a difference between the idea of surrender and surrendering the specifics. Have I surrendered where we’re going to live? Have I really? Have I surrendered how long it’ll take to get out of debt, or what the school year will require? Hell, no. Perfect surrender may not be possible, but if I were even halfway to it I wouldn’t be so fearful and obsessive. My prayers haven’t been about “Your will be done, and help me be OK with it,” they’ve been “Please let your will match with my will, because I really need that to happen to be OK.”
It’s time to get real about how unspiritual I’m feeling. Fearfulness about the future. Resentment and rebellion about the years of financial rehab ahead of me. Envy toward those with more resources. Shame about feeling ungrateful when I know there are many with less. All of these attitudes are contrary to the values I love, but they are here. So what do I do?
This is the part where I talk about my extremely effective and insightful technique for reconnecting to my spirituality. Right. My ego wants me to come up with something like that, but I won’t. Because what I really need to do right now is admit that I don’t know. There isn’t one way, or one guaranteed fix for this. There’s only a place to start. With this scrap of willingness, I can follow various suggestions that have worked for others.